Andrew Fenby and Fergus Mulchrone scored second-half tries to give London Irish a narrow victory over Newcastle Falcons, although Juan Pablo Socino was just a post’s width away from sealing a dramatic draw at the death.
Irish’s Shane Geraghty, starting at inside centre, kicked two first-half penalties to edge the visitors into a 6-5 half-time lead after Josh Furno had dotted down.
Mulchrone’s score and a Geraghty conversion extended Irish’s lead, although the Falcons capitalised on a yellow card for Tom Court to respond with an unconverted try from Scott Wilson.
A Fenby converted try saw Irish edge further ahead and although Sinoti Sinoti touched down with three minutes remaining, Socino missed the chance to level the scores as his conversion came back off the post.
Newcastle enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening exchanges and were soon rewarded, capitalise on their territory as second-row Furno was perfectly placed to score from a driving maul after ten minutes.
Irish clawed their way back into the game though, proving resolute in defence when Newcastle were well placed and taking their chances through the boot of Geraghty – his first penalty coming after 20 minutes before adding another two minutes before the break.
The Falcons would have spoken about turning their dominance into points at half time but they soon found themselves further behind as Mulchrone went over four minutes into the second half – Geraghty as accurate as ever from the kicking tee.
On 51 minutes however a response came in the form of Wilson with Court in the sin bin, although Socino, who had missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time, was wayward with the conversion.
Fenby’s try on the hour – which seemed to have a forward pass in the build-up – was another bitter blow to Newcastle’s hopes of getting a win from their first home game of the new season, with Geraghty again adding the extras.
But again the Falcons battled back with Sinoti adding his side’s third try of the afternoon in the corner to set up a grandstand finish.
Socino was faced with a difficult kick out wide and it proved to be too much as his effort hit the post, allowing Irish to see the game out for their first win of this campaign.